this is the best ad copy you could come up with?

From the same ad agency who developed an ad for a florist with the tagline “Every rose has its thorn”…
buy low sell high
(Originally posted on Instagram.)

They’re also working on a campaign for a bakery using “That’s how the cookie crumbles.”

I hope this was a client influenced ad. If a professional advertising copywriter did this, they need to find new work.

we’ve got trouble right here in Newspaper City

parody_naaFor several months, the Newspaper Association of America has offered a series of free, downloadable print and digital ads that papers can run. The ads mostly talk to readers but are actually subversively directed at advertisers.

Newspapers are not in trouble. They just think they’re in trouble and these ads just reinforce that idea with them, their readers, and their advertisers. They do not inspire confidence.

Newspapers, like all media, are in the eyeball selling business. It doesn’t matter if those eyeballs are looking at column inches or pixels — just as long as those inches or pixels are filled with good content.

I’m offering this version of one of these ads that any newspaper can use for free.

(Click the ad for a larger version to read the copy.)

ad and marketing phrases that I hate

Don’t make me hate you. Don’t use these.

new state of the art website
As opposed to our old website which was run by steam and coal.

got (insert product here)?
We got milk and that was enough. Thanks.

free gift
Ever paid anyone for a gift that you received?

“sports minded business / salespeople”
Respond to a classified employment ad with these words and you’ll either find an idiot sales manager or a pyramid scheme. Or both.

anything that’s “crazy”
Why do car dealers, furniture stores, etc feel it’s a sales boost if their customers think they suffer from mental illness?

these prices are too low to advertise
Original use of this phrase is based in early 20th century antitrust law which also launched the concept of MSRP. But the law only applies to the manufacturer/retailer relationship. 99% of the time you hear it today in ads, it’s baloney.

any phrase in a “conversation” spot
Jim, have you thought of having those hemorrhoids looked at?

cyberspace
1997 called and they want their ____ back.

anything that comes out of the mouth of Sprint CEO Dan Hesse
Isn’t it amazing that these devices can tell everyone how much you hate shaky camera work?

we have to reduce our inventory
The whole point of being in business is to reduce inventory.

I’m sure there are more that annoy me, but these were the ones off the top of my head. What about you? Leave your suggestions in the comments.

just use the other ad

Good points made in this Ad Report Card article from Slate about what’s killing the effectiveness of online video ads.

Just like “in the good old days” when all businesses threw up a website that was nothing more than a virtual version of a brochure, we’re seeing advertisers use old-school models of creative and scheduling to do video on the web. Instead of developing creative that’s made exclusively for the web, broadcast creative is retooled to work online. Or worse yet, web only content is developed using the ideas that work for broadcast.

As with the writer of the article, using these types of web video ads may be hurting those advertisers rather than helping them.

Even though it’s a new format, it’s the same problem that marketers have always created. People tend to believe the creative tack that works well in one medium will work in the others. Back when I was in radio, salespeople would sometimes hand me a client’s newspaper ad and tell me to produce a radio spot from it. Lots of small businesses lift the audio track off their TV spots to run as radio commercials. It doesn’t work. Each form of media (especially online) needs special consideration to play to that medium’s strengths and work on that unique audience.

sing what’s in the brackets

Shotgun Marketing Blog presents: Real Media Spending Cutbacks
[Real Media Spending Cutbacks!]

Today we salute you, Mr. Anheuser-Busch Media Buyer.
[Mr. Anheuser-Busch Media Buyer!]

Anheuser-Busch has slashed radio spending that will hurt the broadcasting industry especially large radio companies like Clear Channel.
[Let’s play Monopoly!]

The bigwigs say they’re just moving money around. Sure. Moving it out of reach from Hits 97.3FM.

Why spend money in a local market when you can buy Super Bowl spots like they’re on the Dollar Menu?
[waldrobe malfunction!]

So crack open an ice cold newspaper classified section, Mr. Anheuser-Busch Media Buyer. Because it’s either that or picking up a shovel down in the Clydesdales‘ stables.
[Mr. Anheuser-Busch Media Buyer!]

Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, Missouri Leuven, Belgium.

—————
(After writing this, I have new respect for the copywriters who do the Real Men of Genius campaign. You have to get the cadence exactly right or it doesn’t work.)

proof shame

Let me first say that I have made many mistakes. A few have been made in life and many more have been made in my marketing efforts. I have approved print jobs with both minor and egregious errors. I have designed and sent ads to a publisher with misspellings. And this blog has been known to have more than the occasional typo. (Although, a copy editor friend is now reading the blog so I’m more careful than I used to be.)

As you go through the day, more than likely you’ll see a few mistakes in marketing pieces. Most of them come through hastily written signage, employees not using common sense, or the dangerous combination of minimum wage and brand messages. I’ve even provided photographic evidence of poor proofs here before. In fact, the problem has gotten so bad that we’ve come to the point that you get a write up in the New York Times because you know how to use punctuation on a sign.

It’s easy to find these singular errors. But occasionally, you’ll find an example where they just backed the dump truck up and let it all go. There’s a new restaurant in my hometown that has been publishing its menu in the local paper for the past few days. And it’s bad.

My wife is an adjunct college English professor and she took it to her night class. The students found copious amounts of misspellings, punctuation errors, and things that just made no sense. Here’s the ad, but because of the poor design and small type, you really can’t read it. But while trying to find an online copy of the menu to show you, I did find that the restaurant has already become a local laughingstock because of others who have noted the horrible job on the ad and menu.

This is not nitpicking. This is being in control of your marketing. There’s no reason for it. Shame on the newspaper and salesperson for letting such a horrible thing be published on behalf of a client. Shame on the graphic designer who didn’t proof the work. And shame on the owners for not taking responsibility for their own marketing and image.

If a company is not going to take the time and effort to properly craft the marketing messages that they’re paying for, how bad are the other aspects of the marketing experience I’m going to have with the company going to be? As you can see in the laughingstock link, shoddy craftsmanship in preparing a menu spills over in the preparation and quality of the food on the menu as well.

what will irritate me for the next few weeks

We’re entering Advertising’s most holy time of year. The Super Bowl (or as their legal hounds would prefer, “the big game”, which also ticks me off) is advertising’s moment in the sun.

For a few weeks in the dead of winter, EVERYONE and their cousin is suddenly an advertising expert. They can tell you which of the extravagant ads from the game was the best one. But the barometer of the “success” of the ads is usually based on which one was the funniest / most controversial / etc. It’s never on which ones were the most effective and caused people to buy the product, increase awareness, or any other quantifiable measure.

Plus, this Solomon-esque judgment of the best ad is a finite phenomenon. Even if you’re in the ad industry, can you name more than one or two Super Bowl ads from last year?

And something that’s worse than the postgame ad analysis is the pregame hoopla that we’ll have to endure over the next few weeks. This company bought 3 spots! A :30 commercial goes for $3 bazillion dollars! And what has become the single most annoying aspect of the ad spotlight during this time of year is the Bob Parsons / GoDaddy ego trip. Do you wake up at night in a cold sweat like me wondering if they can get past the “censors”?

Has your company drunk the Kool-Aid Flavor-Aid and bought time during “the big game”? Since you’ve blown such a large hunk of your budget on placement, let me give you this year’s winning creative pitch for free.

The hooves of flatulent horses dig up the corpse of Robert Goulet who then runs through a CGI generated Orwellian world full of bikini clad college girls. He throws a hammer through a TV screen that has some contest-driven user-generated-content on it. Then the screen fades to black for 15 seconds.

I don’t recommend anything involving your actual product/service or anything that resembles a call-to-action.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m an ad guy. I love creative / clever / funny / etc advertising. But what is forgotten during the Super Advertising hoopla is that advertising’s purpose is to sell. The trouble with most Super Ads is that they are heavy on the concept and light on the message.

I have offered postgame Super Bowl ad analysis in the past.

I’ll go ahead and offer my postgame analysis now. In the 2008 Super Bowl, there were several companies who gambled $3 bazillion dollars in the hopes that they could curry the favor of the masses for a moment. There were a few that grabbed some attention for a short time. The rest lost.

(and the Patriots will win)